Brazil Senate committee approves report calling for Bolsonaro to be indicted

October 27, 2021 - 2:55 PM
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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro reacts during the launching ceremony of the National Green Growth Program, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil October 25, 2021. (Reuters/Adriano Machado)

BRASILIA — A Brazilian Senate investigative committee approved a report on Tuesday that calls for President Jair Bolsonaro to be indicted for nine crimes related to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including crimes against humanity.

The report, which is more than 1,300 pages long and took the opposition-controlled committee about six months to prepare, also alleges that 77 additional people and two companies committed crimes.

A draft report released last week had called for Bolsonaro to be indicted for genocide and murder, but senators later decided to drop those particular charges due to what lawmakers described as technical reasons. They also decided to add 10 people to the list of individuals who should be indicted.

Among the people added was Wilson Lima, the governor of interior Amazonas state, where a lack of hospital oxygen supplies resulted in deaths by asphyxia earlier this year. His government is currently under federal investigation for alleged corruption related to the purchase of medical equipment.

“The chaos of Jair Bolsonaro‘s government will enter history as the lowest level of human destitution,” said Senator Renan Calheiros, rapporteur of the report, adding that the president was “on the side” of dictators, including Adolf Hitler and Augusto Pinochet.

Bolsonaro‘s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.

Lima dismissed the inclusion of his name as political posturing.

“Putting my name in the final report has a motivation that is totally political and electoral,” Lima said in a statement provided by his press office. “I wasn’t even investigated by the committee.”

It is unlikely Bolsonaro will face any formal charges, as they would have to be brought by Brazil’s prosecutor-general, whom the president appointed. The president has previously dismissed the Senate investigation as a “joke.”

Still, the report highlights the right-wing leader’s increasing isolation heading into an election year. His popularity is already flagging due to his handling of the pandemic and stubbornly high inflation. —Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast.